Interest in crafts started at a very early age
I have have always been interested in crafts from a very early age. I was about 8 years old when my dad made me a spool weaver (I am not sure if it was called that). It was a wooden spool with 4 or more nails on the top. You would wind and weave yarn on it and it would come through the hole as a tube. I dressed up my dolls with long tubes sewn together.
As I got older I started teaching myself knitting, crocheting, cross stitch, needlepoint, crewel, English smocking, even tatting! Each hobby lasted a few years but I would eventually get bored with them.
I come from a long line of sewers. No one in my family has ever quilted, but my mother is a (retired) home economics teacher and seamstress and her father was a tailor. In 1985 I thought it would be fun for my mom and I to do something together, so we signed up for our first quilting class with Jackie Robinson, then the owner of a quilt shop in St. Louis, Missouri. I was working full time as a Special Education teacher and this was my summer activity. I would take the lesson home and work on it until 2:00 or 3:00 A.M. so I would not forget what I learned. In the six week class, I finished 5 or 6 quilt tops (some of which never got quilted). I was so proud of myself that I was able to put 3 colors together (light, medium, and dark)! That summer I got hooked on quilting, but sadly to say, my mother did not. She preferred to stick with sewing clothes. I have to say that I have never, in the 20+ years I have been quilting, gotten bored with it. It just keeps getting better!
Family and career
For the next 10 years I took various quilting classes and updated my techniques. I was busy raising my two children, taking care of a household including 2 dogs and 4 cats, going back to school, working full time, and my husband, Mike, a Vietnam, Marine Corps veteran worked long hours, so I did not have too much time to make a lot of quilts.
In 1995 a new quilt shop opened in St. Louis near where I lived and I started working and teaching there. As new books would come in to the shop, I would devour them and teach new classes. I also started designing some of my own work and entering the Hoffman Challenge. The first quilt I entered in 1996 was called Butterfly Garden. It was accepted and traveled around the country the following year. I entered again in 1997 and that quilt Tropical Paradise won a second place prize for the pieced division! What a thrill! That just spurred me on to enter more shows and contests. My biggest thrill was when I won first place in the wall, first entry division at the AQS in Paducah in 2005!
In 2001, I taught a mini techniques class for the quilt guild I belonged to, Thimble & Thread. Our guild was getting ready to put on our bi-annual show and we needed miniature quilts for our auction. Hallye Bone was in that class and she was writing articles for Miniature Quilt Magazine (which is no longer in print). She was so enthralled with my class that she wanted to write an article about me for the magazine. You can see that article in the December/January, 2004 issue. I also spoke to her about wanting to design quilts for one of the fabric companies and she steered me in the right direction. I wrote to P&B Textiles and they wrote me back saying they were looking for new designers. My first commissioned work was called St. Louis Courthouse Steps. After that, I began to be one of their regular designers. I also started teaching and lecturing at quilt guilds around the state. Last year I had the thrill of teaching at IQA Houston Festival and got to repeat that wonderful experience this year!
What a journey!
Things just snowballed after that! I started contacting magazines and other fabric companies over the next few years, adding new ones as I found time. I was working full time as a School Psychological Examiner and full time as a quilt designer. I do not know where I found the time to do both, but I did. Both of my children were grown and left home, so that helped. Mike was also retired and began to help more around the house. He loved doing the grocery shopping and helped with the laundry. He even started doing a lot of the cooking a couple of years ago! I currently do or have done commissioned work for P&B, Timeless Treasures, RJR Fabrics, Marcus Bros. Fabrics, CK Media (McCalls Quilting, Quilters Newsletter, McCalls Quick Quilts ), Harris Publications (Quilt, Quick Quilts), House of White Birches (Quilter's World), All American Craft (The Quilter), Meredith Corp. (American Patchwork & Quilting), Chitra Publications (Miniature Quilts), and I am also a virtual quilt designer for Hoffman Fabrics.
Well in May, 2007 I retired from education so I could pursue my true love of quilting and now I am accomplishing my goal of having my own web site! I hope to spread my love of quilting to all who will listen and take time to look at my work. If your guild or shop is interested in having me for a workshop or lecture, take a look at my lists on my workshops page. I consider myself a traditional quilter. I like to take traditional blocks and create something new and unique. When I teach classes I want to impart my love of quilting and show others it only looks hard. I break everything down to basic steps that even a beginner can do. I want people to leave my class saying "Wow, I did not know I could do that!"
History of Gateway Quilts & Stuff, Inc.
In 1996, while I was working in the quilt shop I became friends with Wanda Kruse and Kathy Lichtenberg. We all enjoyed being together and quilting and when the quilt shop closed in 1999 we thought about purchasing the shop, but decided instead to open our own business. We all worked full time, so we did not have a lot of time to devote to the business, but for 2 or 3 years, we would make small quilts, sell them at craft shows and advertise our services. I purchased a longarm quilting machine and would quilt for customers, Kathy and Wanda would make the quilts and I would quilt them. At some point Wanda's husband Art, who was also a quilter, joined our company when Kathy became very busy with her regular job and had to leave the company. Another quilter, Dolores Keaton, joined the company. She was retired and was able to spend more time quilting and helping out. She does a lot of my piecing for me with my magazine work and is a wonderful designer in her own right. She has also won awards for her work.
At this point I was designing my own patterns and selling them at guild shows. Ann Anderson, who owned a company called Quiltwoman.com (now currently owned by Nancy Dill), liked my patterns and contacted me. She started publishing some of them on her website and promoting them to the quilt shops and large distributors (Checkers and Brewers to name a few). Last year, the company got to the point where all of the work coming out of it was mine and everyone agreed to allow me to be the sole owner of Gateway Quilts & Stuff, Inc.
My sole focus on the business now is to inspire others with my work through my teaching. I also hope to sell patterns along with my favorite quilting supplies! I hope that when you see my patterns, you think about the traditional block that it comes from and realize that it is something that you can and want to do. My philosphy is "Quilting should be fun, not hard".